Friday, October 12, 2007

Marlene Dietrich: Photographs and Memoirs

Before looking at Marlene Dietrich: Photographs and Memoirs, I knew little about the actress. After looking at it, I know more about her public persona, but she is still a mystery to me. The book has many photos, some being family snapshots, but she seems always to be acting a role. I am unable to solve the riddle of her personality.

According to the compiler of this book, Marlene Dietrich kept everything, including letters, telegrams, playbills, and photographs. The actress claimed that she had every dress, blouse, cape, shoe, hat, and accessory she used on stage or in a film. When she died, her estate opened six storage units in London, Paris, New York, and California, for which she spent thousands of dollars annually in rent, and donated her personal possessions to the FilmMuseum in Berlin. This book is a selective catalog of those items. Through family photos, movie stills, displays of artifacts, and comments of her friends, this big museum book gives fans an archaeological look at the life and career of the legendary actress.

There are some especially interesting sections of the book. After watching Ken Burn's documentary The War, I was struck by the twenty plus pages of photos showing her visiting and entertaining American troops in Italy. Seeing her in uniform contrasts sharply with the elegant and sophisticated attire in most of the book.

Dietrich fans will appreciate this attractive book, which may suggest a trip to the museum in Berlin.

Naudet, Jean-Jacques, compiler. Marlene Dietrich: Photographs and Memories, from the Marlene Dietrich Collection of the FilmMuseum Berlin. Knopf, 2001. 262p. ISBN 0375405348

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